Introduction: Barry Hoffman’s Gauntlet Press is a specialty press devoted to publishing signed limited edition collectibles and trade paperbacks. Many of the authors published by the press work in the horror, dark fantasy and sf genres.
With our signed limited editions we don’t simply publish a book with the author’s signature (as do too many specialty presses). We are not an assembly line publisher releasing a dozen or more books per year. We work with the author closely to produce a definitive edition of each of our books. Many of our authors have provided deleted chapters, alternate endings, handwritten first drafts, sketches and interior art (Clive Barker and Marie Lu are accomplished artists and Ray Bradbury is famous for both his “doodles” and oil paintings), introductions and more. Our authors choose the artist for the dustjacket and have final approval of cover art. Our goal is to provide an edition of a book the author can be proud of and customers feel in truly unique.
Of course, the author’s signature is a crucial part of the overall package. Barry shared a glimpse of how this is arranged on the business side of things in his June newsletter, reprinted here with permission.
By Barry Hoffman, Publisher, Gauntlet Press: Authors are a unique bunch when it comes to signing tipsheets, especially when they are writing an introduction or afterword for a book. For those unfamiliar, we can’t send 500 books to an author to sign. That’s not how it works with signed limited editions. We send 52 copies for the lettered edition and 500 copies for the numbered edition of a “tipsheet” paper. The author signs all 550 copies and returns them to us (or the printer). They are then bound into the book as part of the printing process.
All but a few authors do this without charging a penny. One of our first books was Bob Bloch’s PSYCHO. Ray Bradbury agreed to write an introduction and sign tipsheets for all 500 copies. Richard Matheson agreed to write an afterword and sign tipsheets for all 500 tipsheets. At the time (30 years ago) we didn’t have a lettered edition for our first few books. Neither charged a penny for either writing their piece or signing the tipsheets.
A few authors have asked for money to sign. That’s their prerogative. Harlan Ellison always asked for a modest sum. I only mention Harlan because he was outspoken about the practice. At a convention where the two of us were on a panel he told the assembled group that he never wrote anything for free. He didn’t make it a secret that he would charge a nominal fee to sign tipsheets. I may not agree with him but he was consistent and never charged an outrageous amount.
It’s more of a mixed bag when it comes to celebrities. Neither Robert De Niro nor Martin Scorsese asked for payment for signing tipsheets for TAXI DRIVER. None of the many celebrities who signed our 10-volume Twilight Zone script series asked for a dime to sign tipsheets for the lettered edition of the book. However, we did pay William Shatner to sign tipsheets for NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET.
There are celebrities who also make a living (a pretty good one, at that) going to conventions. At Chiller Con, where I would host a table with Jack Ketchum, there was an eclectic group of celebrities who autographed photos for a fee. Carl Weathers was at Chiller at least once. Makeup artists and other cult figures would have a steady stream of customers. There were always several Playboy centerfolds who, years later, were still making money selling signed photos of themselves. There is nothing wrong with that. Still, Ketchum (aka Dallas Mayr) never charged for his signature. Neither did F. Paul Wilson, who attended several of the Chiller Cons I went to.
Why do most authors not ask for compensation for writing an introduction/afterword or signing tipsheets? I can’t offer a definitive answer, but I think it lies with the respect authors have for one another and their novels. Matheson and Bradbury both had enormous respect for Bob Bloch the man and the author. And, PSYCHO was his masterpiece. No one had to twist their arms.
Authors are a unique bunch and I thank each and every one for the contributions they have made to our books.